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Health officials say stay safe while keeping warm this winter


Health officials want people to know about potential hazards while keeping their homes warm this winter.

Low temperatures have dipped below freezing this week and lows in the 20s and 30s will continue, according to forecasts. The Columbia/Boone County Health Department on Wednesday reminded its social media followers that heating is the second-leading cause of fires behind cooking.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends winterizing your home to prevent leaks, insulating water lines along exterior walls, repairing roof leaks and cleaning out gutters.

Be sure to check your heating systems. Have the system professionally serviced to make sure that it is clean and properly ventilated. Inspect and clean fireplaces and chimneys and have a safe backup heating source and fuel.

Check the batteries in smoke detectors monthly and replace the batteries twice a year. Try to intercept carbon monoxide poisoning emergencies by having a battery-powered CO detector to alert you of deadly, odorless, colorless gas.

The symptoms of CO poisoning are headaches, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. Gas heaters that malfunction can sometimes emit excess carbon monoxide, which can be fatal.

Ameren Missouri also warns people of possible gas leaks when using their natural gas appliances such as gas stoves and furnaces as the temperature drops. Ameren is using the phrase "Smell Gas, Act Fast" meaning if you smell gas in your home, leave and call them immediately. They instruct that you do not open any windows or doors to help vent out the smell or turn on any lights.

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Jazsmin Halliburton


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